Police investigate why student gunned down his parents

Law enforcement officers search a wooded area for a suspect involved in a shooting at a Central Michigan University residence hall on Friday, March 2, 2018 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich.  Two people who weren't students were fatally shot as campus police believe the shooting "started from a domestic situation," the university said in a statement. No other injuries were immediately reported.   (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP)

Law enforcement officers search a wooded area for a suspect involved in a shooting at a Central Michigan University residence hall on Friday, March 2, 2018 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. Two people who weren’t students were fatally shot as campus police believe the shooting “started from a domestic situation,” the university said in a statement. No other injuries were immediately reported. (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP)

By RICK CALLAHAN
Associated Press

MOUNT PLEASANT — Investigators were trying to figure out why a Central Michigan University student charged with fatally shooting his parents acted so strangely the day before the killings that he was taken to a hospital.

The shooting happened Friday after James Eric Davis Jr.’s parents picked him up from that hospital and brought him to his dorm to pack up for spring break. University police Chief Bill Yeagley said the 19-year-old can be seen on video in the dorm’s parking lot with the gun before he entered the residence hall where his parents were shot around 8:30 a.m.

Davis Jr. has been charged with two counts of murder and a weapons charge in the shootings of his father, Eric Davis Sr., and mother, Diva Davis, university spokeswoman Heather Smith said. Davis Sr. was a part-time police officer in Bellwood, Illinois, and Yeagley said the gun used by Davis Jr. belonged to his father.

At a press conference Saturday, Yeagley declined to say whether drugs were found in Davis Jr.’s system. He declined to say what type of gun was used or whether it was his father’s service revolver.

Davis Jr. was initially taken to a hospital after his arrest early Saturday but will be moved to a jail once he’s discharged. It was not immediately clear when he will make his first court appearance.

Authorities said Davis Jr. fled after the shootings, prompting an intensive manhunt in the area. He was arrested without incident shortly after midnight when someone aboard a train spotted a person along railroad tracks in Mount Pleasant, and called police, Yeagley said.

Central Michigan is at Mount Pleasant, about a 285-mile (460-kilometer) drive from the family’s hometown of Plainfield, Illinois, in south suburban Chicago. The shooting occurred on a day when parents were arriving to pick up students at the university for the beginning of a weeklong spring break.

Yeagley said witness statements and video indicate that at the time they were shot, Davis Jr.’s parents were in his fourth-floor dorm at the campus’ Campbell Hall “simply packing up for spring break.”

Davis Sr. had been a longtime member of the Illinois Army National Guard, serving in the Iraq War and later as a recruiter, according to Illinois National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Brad Leighton.

An officer was so concerned about Davis Jr.’s erratic behavior that he had spoken to his mother about possible drug use before the parents arrived on campus.

“The mother said she too was concerned this could be drugs,” he said.

Yeagley said Davis Jr. had not been previously identified by campus officials as someone that others on campus were concerned about.

“Mr. Davis was not ever reported, and we had no interaction that we’re aware of with him in any negative fashion — with anybody — prior to this incident,” he said.

University President George E. Ross said the shooting had left the campus and surrounding community traumatized. “There were thousands of people who were sheltering in place yesterday and they will be dealing with this for the rest of their lives,” he said.

 

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